Teaching & Learning
Across the whole school in each class, Autism specific approaches to teaching, learning, social behaviour, social communication, social interaction, social imagination, behaviour modification and anxiety moderation, include Zones of Regulation, Talkabout Social Communication Programme, Positive Behaviour Strategies and plans. For individual pupils, aspects of other Autism Specific approaches are developed alongside the class-based offer, to meet individual needs, these may include augmented communication approaches such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) – alongside bespoke programmes created by the school Clinical Professionals Team
Many children’s EHCPs state that pupils’ needs are best met in calm, consistent school environments, with small group teaching, as the children’s anxiety and stress levels have been aggravated by feeling trapped within a crowded room, or unable to cope with colours, displays, smells; children also find loud and crowded class spaces and corridors stressful and add additional stress and contribute to behaviours and meltdowns.
The Wherry School brings together the key areas of education, supported by a commissioned clinical professionals support team, along with support for families to ensure the best possible outcomes for each learner.
Vision: The Wherry School - Individual Learning For An Independent Life
We have high ambitions for all the children and young people at The Wherry School, to fulfil their potential, recognising their skills, strengths and talents, as well as equipping them with the specific skills and knowledge which will help self-manage any areas of difficulty related to their autism.
Our school is made up from a Primary, Secondary and Further Education Departments and as an Academy, the school delivers an adapted curriculum which mirrors the National Curriculum 2014, providing an individualised programme for all learners.
The staff to learner ratio aims to be around 1:2; staff working within the school have a sound understanding of the difficulties and barriers to learning that autism causes and the curriculum offered, including skills and knowledge associated with supporting the particular needs of autistic learners are developed as discrete subjects, as well as embedded in the approaches to learning, to help the children and young people overcome these as a priority. See School Autism Specific Skills and Knowledge Curriculum – Informal ASSK curriculum.
Our curriculum (formal – subject specific skills and knowledge and the informal – Autism Specific Skills and Knowledge ASSK) demonstrates our commitment to every learner developing their independence, to enabling them to feel empowered to make positive choices about their own lives and to provide them with the skills and knowledge that allows them to participate fully in the direction of their own learning and future directions beyond the school.
The curriculum and learning opportunities within the curriculum are built on student’s strengths and interests; giving them a reason to learn and instilling a belief in the importance of what they can achieve, not what they can’t – the school curriculum is aligned to the National Curriculum and a GCSE or equivalent pathway at Key Stage 4, alongside a school devised curriculum offer for all pupils developing the skills and knowledge to support areas of learning and understanding that are challenging for many pupils with Autism.
Teaching and learning takes into account the difficulties faced by our learners and the curriculum and its delivery is modified to meet the needs of the autistic learners, providing learning in an environment where students feel supported, whilst maintaining challenge and aspiration for every learner.
The focus of the curriculum is on developing functional skills and life skills towards adulthood, academic learning and personal, social and emotional learning which all enable our students to become as independent as possible in their lives.
Learning extends beyond the classroom to encompass learning within the community and developing independent learning skills at home through engagement with families.
Implementation of the Curriculum;
Implementation - Giving our students the skills to succeed
- Our students will develop the skills they need to become independent learners, including functional maths and literacy skills
- Our curriculum will allow the children to learn, thrive, develop the ability to form relationships and genuine friendships, gain greater independence, develop the communication needs to allow them to participate socially, develop friendship skills and in work and where possible become economically independent.
- We will offer personalised approaches to learning and teaching that builds on individual areas of strength and removes barriers to learning, so that all students reach their full potential and experience success.
Implementation - Close support from all our staff and school commissioned clinical support professionals
- Staff will deliver a high quality education and relate confidently with all students.
- We will have available to each student a range of interventions and therapy based approaches, that are developed at a whole-school and class level, which form part of the educational process and not an additional or bolt-on support mechanism.
- Specialist professionals will work alongside our staff within our classrooms and education areas, providing a range of individual and small group interventions, to support the pupils’ ability to learn and grow as learners; click here for more information for the school health Professional support model.
Implementation - An open and collaborative approach
- Regular discussions will take place between professionals and parents or carers to ensure a dynamic and proactive approach to the learning needs of each student.
- Staff will work closely with supporting clinical team professionals and multi-disciplinary agencies and form strong partnerships with parents, carers and students to create an environment where students are challenged as well as nurtured.
- We will have an open door ethos and invite parents, carers and partners to be part of school life.
Implementation - A centre of opportunity and community
- We will provide as wide a range of enrichment activities as possible, and further develop these over the first few years and beyond, so an extensive and wide variety of opportunities is available to all students; with access to specialists and high quality professionals from the Arts, Science, Humanities, Academic learning support, pastoral support, so that pupils have access to the quality of experiences at least matches that available in mainstream schools and we will not accept anything less.
- Students will have access to additional specialist facilities, for example facilities for the arts and sport, through establishing links within the community.
- We will further develop our work as a centre of expertise in Norfolk and Suffolk, sharing our skills and knowledge, curriculum approaches and The Wherry offer with other education establishments in Norfolk to support them with the education of children with autism, so a wider range of these children can access mainstream education.